Summer Solstice is a magical time. Even city folk can feel the dance of the elemental spirits in and around the trees at midnight.

In the Northern Hemisphere, June 21st marks the longest day, "The Summer Solstice", the moment when the Sun is at its most powerful. In the Southern Hemisphere, June 21 is the Winter Solstice, the longest night.

Astrologically, the Sun enters the Cardinal Water Sign of Cancer, the sign ruling feelings, moods, motherhood, family, wounding, feeling, lunacy, and our need to be nurtured.

Astrologers often look to solstice charts (a horoscope drawn for the exact moment of the solstice) to determine what the tone of the next three to six months will be like.

This year at Solstice, Saturn, the planet of karma and responsibility, is conjoined (very close to) the Sun, suggesting that this season will not be one of simple light hearted abandonment, but may in fact feel to many of us like "The Long and Whining Road."

Saturn always means business. Now at Solstice, he is insisting that we must listen up and honor our emotional truth and get clear on what our core needs are really about. America, born on July 4, 1776, is a Cancerian nation, and we will especially feel the constraints of Saturn as we did in 1973, 1974 and 1975.

Denial of our 'emotional bottom line' won't play. Neither will ignoring our responsibilities to our family and other sources of sustenance, including food and water. Saturn in Cancer doesn't tolerate wastefulness.

Another rare phenomenon occurring this summer concerns Mars, the planet of drive, motivation, testosterone and war: he will be closer to the earth than he's been in over 70,000 years. Since June 16, Fiery Mars began traveling in the soulful and oceanic sign of Pisces, establishing a 'sizzle beneath the waves.' He will slowly burn through the sky all summer long and travel retrograde (backwards) from July 29-Sept. 27, completing his stint through Pisces on Dec. 16.

Mars, the planet of chi (life energy), has not spent this length of time in Pisces since 1956, the summer of the Suez Canal flare-up, the sinking of The Andria Doria, the debut of Elvis on Ed Sullivan, and the film The Ten Commandments with the awesome parting of the Red Sea (Mars rules Red, Pisces rules the Sea). We can only speculate on what drama on the high seas may happen this summer. Especially as Mars meets up with unpredictable Uranus several times beginning on June 23rd, can tsunamis both literally and metaphorically be far behind?

Meanwhile, Mars in Pisces will arouse much passion on a very deep level. He will force us to check in with our dreams and create from the depths of our being, demanding that we align with our poetic selves. Our romantic liaisons will be more passionate than usual, so enjoy--while taking into account the fact that superficial sex just won't satisfy.

The symbolism suggests that this will indeed be "The Soul Searching summer of 2003," complete with a riveting revolutionary musical artist or truly innovative group, or a genre that takes the world by storm--sea storm, that is.

On a very positive note, Jupiter will enter Virgo in late August, and configurations at that time suggest major medical breakthroughs are possible. Use the restrictive energy of Saturn in Cancer to shed some weight and avoid the fat tax proposed for 2004.

Play it safe, and think twice before booking a cruise sailing from July 29 to Sept. 27. And in the meantime, revel in the Solstice in preparation for what will be an emotionally demanding summer.

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